A program that serves up the skills needed to nourish, while battling hunger, is helping families and individuals in the kitchen,
Community Kitchens has been operating in the North Okanagan and Shuswap for 20 years. The goal of Community Kitchens is to help people to stretch their food budget by teaching them how to cook nutritious, affordable meals in a group environment.
Community Kitchens are three hours long and attended by groups of 4-12 people whose ages and abilities range significantly. There are single parents, seniors, young parents, clients of the mental health system who live independently, people with mobility difficulties, grandparents raising their grandchildren, people who access the food bank regularly, and more. They do this with a budget of one dollar per serving which the participants pay.
Faith Loker has been coming to Community Kitchens for a few years.
“I enjoy meeting new people and working together on the cooking.” said Loker. “It is great to try new foods that I might not try on my own.”
Loker cooks for herself, her husband and family which includes grandkids who live with her.
Sharing the chopping and cooking makes it possible to make three to five dishes in the three hours.
With 261 participants over the past year both they, and in many cases, their families have benefited.
At a recent Community Kitchen one gentleman was there cooking most of the meals for the week for his wife, who is bed-ridden and his teenage son; good healthy food for $1 per serving.
Community Kitchens is responsive to what the specific participants want to learn. A group of young parents expressed an interest in learning how to make cheap, and healthy breakfasts for their kids. The instructor taught a session that focused on that topic alone and the parents were thrilled. The groups made baked oatmeal, scrambled egg burritos, smoothies and more.
This program will have a direct impact on the health of many young people and it may even help them to stay focused on school and not on their hunger.
“People shouldn’t have to choose between paying the rent and feeding their family,” said Linda Yule of United Way. “Community Kitchens helps to stretch the food budget and keep families healthy.”
United Way invests in programs like Community Kitchens because healthy people and strong communities matter.
United Way has three focus areas that the groups they fund must work towards: moving people from poverty to possibility, healthy people in strong communities and helping kids be all that they can be. Community Kitchens addresses these focus areas.
For more information, and to donate to your United Way go to www.unitedwaynocs.com or call 250-549-1346.